Reflections

"A little less her mother loved her"

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Today has got me thinking a lot about forgiveness, and incidentally, just two weeks ago, I went to the World Wellness Women’s Convention where Dr. Janet Wa spoke on the health benefits of forgiveness. She said forgiving someone actually grants you relief, a peaceful state of mind, and promotes the release of endorphins which keep you in a happy state. Her argument was that by holding grudges, you are only causing yourself mental strain, because the people you fail to forgive will continue to live their lives normally. “If you don’t forgive people, you only tie up yourself,” she said, “so generate Vitamin F (Forgiveness)!”

Although I myself am quite a forgiving person and I think Dr. Wa gave some great advice, I don’t think it’s completely true that unforgiven people go on with their lives without feeling guilt.

When I think of forgiveness and punishment, I can’t help but recall certain scenes from one of my favorite books, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. My favorite scene is where a young child tells her single mother to “go marry” a random stranger with whom the mother has been polite. Mistaking her mother’s politeness for flirting, the young Rahel blurts out that her mother should just go marry the stranger. Without showing anger or disciplining the young girl for her careless words the mother calmly replies, “Rahel, do you know what you’ve just done? When you hurt people, it makes them love you less.”

These few sentences from the mother’s mouth have such an impact on the young child, that she tries to win back her mother’s acceptance and affection for the rest of the novel. Rahel even tries to punish herself because she feels so bad and just wants her mother’s love. Rahel’s candor in expressing her guilt has always struck me.

Despite what Dr. Wa says, I think sometimes when we aren’t punished by the ones we’ve hurt, we can’t help but punish ourselves.

So whether we are in a position to forgive but we continue to hold grudges, or we’re seeking forgiveness and hold a grudge against ourself, I think it’s most practical to live by the words of Thomas Szasz:

The foolish neither forgive nor forget;
the naive forgive and forget;
the wise forgive but never forget.
-Thomas Szasz

Advertisements

0 comments on “"A little less her mother loved her"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: